Arlington, MA Tornado, Aug 1871
The foregoing is supplemented with the following from the columns of Arlington Advocate of January, 1897:
Your souvenir number recently come to hand and attracted special attention for the excellence of its composition and illustrations. It represents quite a complete history of Arlington for twenty-five years, and has been laid away among my valuable pamphlets.
I was particularly interested in your description of the town as you saw it in the summer of 1871, when your mission was to "spy out the land." My first knowledge of the town was obtained that same summer, and as your chronological events began in 1872, I cannot refrain from alluding to the tornado of August 28, 1871, which will be recalled by many of your readers.
Throughout the day a stiff breeze blew from the southwest, which considerably increased at sunset, when the heavens were covered with black, heavy-looking clouds. At 10:50 the wind had increased to a terrible gale. Houses rocked upon their foundations and window-blinds and skylights were wrenched off and hurled into the streets. Immense elm trees were uprooted or their branches twisted off by the fury of the storm.* The darkness was impenetrable and the rain fell in torrents. The rattling of falling chimneys and the snapping of limbs from the trees could be heard from all directions. At precisely eleven, as the clock in the Unitarian Church steeple began to strike the hour, the storm doubled its fury. I had crawled to an open window and with my hands tight upon the casement, I listened to the wild clanging of the church bells. The rhythmical strokes of the clock ceased and gave place to an irregular, uncertain stroke that told me that the church spires were swaying in the tornado. Then came a lull as they hung in midair followed by a terrible crash, and both spires lay a mass of rubbish in the street.
It is a curious circumstances that Dr. Adams, of Boston, who preached in the Orthodox church the day before the cyclone, described in his sermon at considerable length a typhoon and its disastrous results.
Frederick A. Hubbard.
* One of these trees was the noble elm which for two centuries sheltered the Adams homestead. Its exact site is marked by the elm tree at the depot park east of Town Hall, procured and planted there by Messrs. Joseph S. Potter and J. Winslow Peirce immediately after the ruins of the old tree had been removed.---[En.
Town of Arlington, Past and Present By Charles Symmes Parker, 1907, pages 131-134